Americans Elect is a 501(c)(4) corporation. Federal tax laws say that a 501(c)(4) organization is a “civic league, social welfare organization, or a local association of employees.” A 501(c)(4) may participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as its primary activity is the promotion of social welfare. A 501(c)(4) need not make public a list of individuals who donate to it.
These organizations are required to fill out a 12-page form, called Form 990, and this form must be available for public inspection. The form asks for a description of the organization’s mission or most significant activities, and an accounting of income and expenditures.
Jim Cook, of the blog Irregular Times, is a journalist who has been covering Americans Elect since it was founded. Here he describes his efforts to see the latest Form 990 for Americans Elect, the form for calendar year 2011.